Protecting Yourself From Overdraft And Bounced Check Fees

How do overdrafts and bounced checks happen?
When you:

  • Write a check,
  • Withdraw money from an ATM,
  • Use your debit card to make a purchase, or
  • Make an automatic bill payment or other electronic payment for more than the amount in your checking account, you overdraw your account. Simmons First has the choice to either pay the amount or not. If we pay even though you don’t have the money in your account, you may be charged a Paid Item Fee (overdraft fee). If Simmons First returns your check without paying it, you may be charged a "bounced check" or Return Item Fee (insufficient (NSF) fee). The person or company to whom you wrote the check (e.g. a store, your landlord, or the phone company) may charge you a "returned check" fee in addition to the fee Simmons First charges you.

     

How can you avoid overdraft and bounced check fees?
The best way to avoid overdraft and bounced check fees is to manage your account so you don't overdraw it.

  • Keep track of how much money you have in your checking account by keeping your check register up-to-date.
  • Record all checks when you write them and other transactions when you make them. Don't forget to subtract any fees.
  • Pay special attention to your electronic transactions. Record your ATM withdrawals and fees, debit card purchases, and online payments.
  • Don't forget about automatic bill payments you may have set up for utilities, insurance or loan payments.
  • Keep an eye on your account balance. Remember that some checks and automatic payments may not have cleared yet.
  • Review your account statements each month. Between statements, you can find out which payments have cleared and check your balances by calling Simmons First 24-Hour Telephone Banking or by checking online using Simmons First Bank Anywhere or at any Simmons First ATM. Be Sure to find out the actual amount in your account – your account balance not including any funds available to you through "courtesy overdraft protection", or "bounce coverage", plans.

Sometimes mistakes happen. If you do overdraw your account, deposit money into the account as soon as possible to cover the overdraft amount plus any fees. Depositing money into your account can help you avoid additional overdrafts and fees.

What is Simmons First Overdraft Privilege?
Simmons First offers an overdraft privilege plan so that your checks may not bounce. With this plan you'll still pay a Paid item Fee (overdraft fee) to the bank for each item, but you will avoid the merchant's returned check fee and will stay in good standing with the people you do business with. Simmons First Overdraft Privilege is subject to approval and pre-approved overdraft limits.

How much does Simmons First Overdraft Privilege cost?
Simmons First charges a flat fee of $30.00 for each item we cover, and sets a dollar limit on the total amount your account may be overdrawn at any one time. For example, Simmons First might cover overdrafts up to a total of $500, including all fees.
Example: Suppose you forgot that you had only $15.00 in your account and wrote a check for $25.00, a check for $50.00, and a check for $100.00. In these three (3) transactions you've spent a total of $175.00 – and overdrawn your account by $160.00 ($175.00 - $15.00 = $160.00). How much will your forgetfulness cost you?If you have Simmons First Overdraft Privilege, Simmons First may decide to cover all three (3) transactions, and each of the three (3) overdrafts will trigger a fee. You will owe Simmons First the $160.00 that you spent even though it wasn't in your account, plus the three (3) overdraft fees. If the overdraft fee is $30.00 per overdraft, you will owe Simmons First $250.00. [$160.00 + $90.00 (3 x $30.00)].

What are some other ways to cover overdrafts?
Simmons First provides other ways of covering overdrafts that may be less expensive. Inquire at any Simmons First location about qualifying for these other options before making your choice. Other options include:

  • Automated OD Protection Transfer – Link your checking account to a savings account you have with us. If you overdraw your checking account, Simmons First automatically transfers funds from your savings account to your checking account. Transfer fees may apply.
  • Simmons First Personal Line of Credit – You need to apply for a "line of credit" just as you would apply for a regular loan. If you overdraw your account, Simmons First will lend you the funds by using your line of credit to cover the overdraft. You will pay interest on this loan, and there may be an annual fee; however, the overall costs may be less than the costs for Simmons First Overdraft Privilege.

The choice is yours. Consider these ways to cover your overdrafts:

Ways to Cover Your Overdrafts

Example of Possible Cost for Each Overdraft*

Good Account Management

$0.00

Link to a Savings Account

$5.00 per Transfer

Overdraft Line of Credit

$75.00 Annual Fee + Current Loan Rates

Simmons First Overdraft Privilege

$30.00 Paid Item Fee per overdraft item

Bounced Check

$60.00 ($30.00 Bank Return Item Fee + $30.00 Merchant Fee)

*These costs are only examples. Fees and interest rates are subject to change.

What do you need to know about "courtesy overdraft protection", or "bounce coverage", plans?

  • Avoid using these plans as short-term loans – they are costly forms of credit.
  • If you overdraw your account, get money back into your account as soon as possible. Remember that you need to put enough money back into your account to cover both the amount of your overdraft and any fees.
  • Even if you have one of these plans, there is no guarantee that your bank will cover your checks, ATM withdrawals, and debit card or other electronic transactions that overdraw your account.
  • Good account management is the lowest cost way to protect your hard-earned money. If you need overdraft protection every now and then, stop by any Simmons First location and discuss your options.

What should you do if you have a problem or complaint about "courtesy overdraft protection", or "bounce coverage", plans?

If you have a complaint, first try to resolve the problem directly by calling Customer Service at Simmons First. If you are unable to resolve the problem, you may want to file a complaint with one of the state or federal agencies responsible for enforcing consumer banking laws. To file a complaint about a bank, savings and loan, or credit union contact one of the follow federal agencies, depending on the type of institution at which you bank.

State-chartered banks that are members of the Federal Reserve System
Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Division of Consumer and Community Affairs
Mail Stop 801
20th and C Streets NW
Washington, DC 20551
1 (202) 452-3693 or www.federalreserve.gov

State-chartered banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve System
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
Consumer Response Center
1100 Walnut St., Box # 11
Kansas City, MO 64106
1 (877) 275-3342 (toll free) or www.fdic.gov

National banks (banks with "national" in the name or "N.A." after the name)
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Customer Assistance Unit
1301 McKinney Street, Suite 3450
Houston, TX 77010
1 (800) 613-6743 (toll free) or www.occ.treas.gov
eMail: customer.assistance@occ.treas.gov

Federal savings associations and some state savings associations
Office of Thrift Supervision
Consumer Programs
1700 G Street NW
Washington, DC 20552
1 (800) 842-6929 (toll free) or www.ots.treas.gov

FOR INFORMATION REGARDING CREDIT COUNSELING SERVICES CONTACT THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION FOR THE CONSUMER AT www.ftc.gov or 1-877-ftc-help.